Brazil Officials at Odds Over Sports Restart

President Jair Bolsonaro (l.) wants to resume sports activities in his country despite the rising number of coronavirus cases of late. Top soccer clubs plan to move training from Rio to Brasilia to avoid the opposition from Rio’s Mayor Marcelo Crivella.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro oversees a country wracked by coronavirus cases, but that has not stopped representatives from the top soccer clubs, Flamengo and Vasco da Gama, from bending his ear about implementation of measures to allow soccer to resume.

A Flamengo delegation of club President Rodolfo Landim, Doctor Márcio Tannure and Director Aleksander Santos met with Bolsonaro, following an event with Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the eldest child of the president.

President Bolsonaro has repeated on several instances how he wants to restart the sports calendar, despite recommendations otherwise from health authorities and opposition from Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella and Governor Wilson Witzel.

Because of the difficulties training in Rio presents, clubs will consider switching to Brasilia. On May 19, Flamengo players resumed training without prior notice or authorization. In late April, the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasilia offered its facilities to continue the Carioca Championship, according to SBC Americas. The meeting with Bolsonaro was aimed at this proposal, which would allow both teams to train and play in the same place during the pandemic.

After the meeting, Crivella reiterated that activities such as sports events are still not included on the list of businesses that can operate.

The mayor also banned gambling at local lottery agencies, trying to avoid big crowds and long lines. “A lot of people haven’t realized that they need to avoid crowds and stay home. They can go outside only to do essential jobs or meet urgent needs. By unnecessarily exposing yourself, you’re increasing the risk. Our intention is to prevent that,” he said.